France’s second largest city, Marseille is a melting point of culture, history and style. There’s always something new for the curious traveller to see and do, and for the traveller to enjoy in a France motorhome rental. The pace never slows in this vibrant and rich city.
Marseille is built on an active port where sea breezes cool the bustle and fresh-off-the-boat catches are sold each morning. Along the coast, trails and tracks veer around sun-scorched and sandy beaches. The Mediterranean coast in Southern France makes for the ultimate in campervan holidays. Soak in the sun or explore some of France’s most picturesque cities.
Marseille campervan hire – compare the best deals
Marseille is a perfect base for motorhome getaways and road trips and there are plenty of companies to choose from. Motorhome Republic makes it easy to pick by comparing all the French campervan rental companies in one place. Everything you need to know is right there on the results page.
Marseille campervan adventures can lead you through the south of France, along the Mediterranean coast and into ancient vineyards. Smaller converted vans can be a good option for couples as they’re easy to drive and explore the country laneways. These have a double bed and cooking equipment, but no bathroom or shower, which means you’ll have to stay at camping grounds. Another way to travel is to rent a larger, RV-style camper with all its own facilities. These are ideal for packing up the whole family, but are more difficult to park up and drive.
Road trips away from Marseille
Marseille beaches can be a bit hit and mess, so pick your spot carefully. South of the city centre, between La Pointe Rouge Harbour and La Madrague Harbour the beaches, the beaches are slightly less crowded. Or pack up the camper and head to L’Estaque. It’s only 20 minutes or so and a nice spot for a picnic or swim.
Further to the south are the Calanques – a series of miniature fjords with wonderful blue sea and spectacular limestone cliffs. Walk along the coast from Cassis to Marseille for spectacular views and a chance to spot some interesting flora and fauna. At a fast pace, the whole trail can be done in a day.
Take a picnic and go for a walk in the hills, around the outskirts of Marseille to Allauch and Plan de Cuques. The countryside is beautiful and the views of the Mediterranean are simply stunning.
From Marseille it is easy to get to Lyon, Nice or Montpellier. Corsica can also be reached easily by ferry. Italy is another option you should consider as it is just under 3 hours drive from Marseille.
Motorhome camping – the places to stay around Marseille
Camping du Garbalan is situated in pine woods, close to the Marcel Pagnol hills. It is a simple camping ground with shady campsites and only a few minutes from the quaint fishing village of Cassis - an ideal motorhome base for travellers who love the outdoors and want to explore the Calanques de Cassis.
Camping les Cigales is nearby and only a 15-minute walk from the beach at Cassis and a 30-minute drive from downtown Marseille. Shade and privacy are standard at every site and reservations are not necessary. If you have a pooch, they’re most welcome here.
Camping Ceyreste is located beside the pretty village of Ceyreste. It is family-friendly, with plenty for the young ones to do, including mini golf and kids’ club.
Camping le Jai is right on the beach at Marignane, just north of Marseilles. It’s the perfect place for swimming, kite-surfing, parasailing, snorkeling, windsurfing and catamaran sailing.
Fresh and undoubtedly French – restaurants in Marseille
The French have an unfussed confidence about their food. Very little has changed over the years, with a focus on bouillabaisse, aioli and the freshest seafood.
Try the local bouillabaisse, a fish-based soup served with a garlic-saffron sauce. In particular, try it at Le Petit Nice Passédat. This is a 3-star Michelin restaurant and one of Southern France’s very best restaurants. The views and the food are spectacular, while the price tag is just as grand from 180€ a person. So if you’re on a budget on your Marseille campervan holiday, be prepared. A tip for first-timers: when eating the bouillabaisse, you drink the soup and then eat the fish.
For more seafood treats head towards the port, where you’ll find L'Epuisette. Or visit Chez Toinou, a block away from the Canebière, for their famed oysters. Remember to book ahead as this place can get packed quickly.
For more reasonable fare, Bar de L’Hotel de Ville on the “Vieux Port” is a very popular spot for long lunches. But while the service is attentive and friendly, there is no English spoken here. The wine and food are exquisite though, so no matter what you end up ordering, it will be delicious. Don’t miss trying a “Navette” at Four des Navettes. It’s a dry biscuit, with the recipe kept secret for almost a century. Chez Etienne in Le Panier, has excellent pizza and roasted meats.
Postcard perfect – things to do in Marseille
Marseille is an aromatic concoction of heat and the sea. Le Vieux Port is constantly heaving and it’s easy to while away the hours watching fishermen selling their stock by auction. If you have the chance, take a trip out to Frioul islands or Chateau d’If and head back into port at sunset.
Make your way to the Soho of Marseille – Quartier du Panier. You will find size-zero pants by Louis Vuitton and Channel, or sip on a delicate cocktail as you play spot-the-tourist.
There are so many landmarks in Marseille, it is difficult to miss them. The Palais Longchamp is worth visiting, though it won't take you long. Simply follow the Boulevard Longchamp past all of the stunning homes. Notre-Dame de la Garde is the big church overlooking the city. Fishermen used to have their boats blessed there and it is one of the nicest views of the city. Palais du Pharo (Pharo Palace) also has stunning vistas.
Le Cours Julien and la plaine is a relaxed area to explore with bookstores, cafes, fountains and a playground for the kids. Every Thursday and Saturday morning the Plaine market is the place to shop. There are some very good deals as many items have “tombé du camion” or have fallen off the truck!
The Château d'If is a small island off the city, built initially for defence and later used as a prison. Take a boat tour from the Vieux Port.
Marseille motorhome guide
Here are a couple of handy things to know for your campervan holiday in France:
Avoid pickpockets and muggers by not carrying valuables and always watch your belonging and lock up your campervan.
Stay away from Gare St Charles and the upper part of La Canebière at night.
From June to September, some of the Calanques can be closed due to high risk of fire.